BY SILAS NKALA
A LOCAL truck driver was jailed in Botswana after being caught smuggling seven children from Zimbabwe to South Africa through that country.
Reports from Botswana said Eric Mpofu (29) appeared before Botswana Magistrate Chandapiwa Molefi on Monday charged with ill-treatment of children.
This followed his arrest by police on December 3, 2021 in Bluetown while travelling with the children aged between 9 and 12. They did not have passports.
Prosecutor Sesafeleng Dijeng told the court that Mpofu was found transporting the minors on his truck.
The court heard that police were still trying to find out if Mpofu had permission from the legal guardians or parents of the children to take them to SA as he alleged.
“Since the accused was only arrested last week Friday, our investigations are at their initial stages.
“Our investigations so far show that the accused was in transit from Zimbabwe to SA through Botswana,” investigating officer assistant superintendent Meshack Mosika told the court.
“He has no permanent place of residence in Botswana, he does not have any gainful employment in Botswana and he is facing a very serious offence.
“We are yet to ascertain charges that could later be levelled against Mpofu since his current charge has an element of human trafficking.
“We also fear that the accused is a flight risk. We also believe that the process of investigation will be protracted since it may involve authorities from Zimbabwe and SA.”
Mosika said they would establish with guardians of the children in Zimbabwe as well as their parents, who are said to be in SA to ascertain whether Mpofu was not a child trafficker.
“There is also the likelihood of having to carry out DNA tests to confirm if the people who will come forward to claim that they are parents of the children are, indeed, their parents.
“We are afraid that if the accused is granted bail, he is unlikely to fulfil his bail conditions,” Mosika said.
The children are currently in the care of the police. Molefi remanded Mpofu in custody pending finalisation of investigations.